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March 6, 2012
 

One Negro, 4/5 Vote: New York State’s Plan to Dilute Your Vote

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Written by: Kelly Virella
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Under the current redistricting proposal, people of color would lose their influence or majorities in several districts.

W

ho knows when New Yorkers actually get the new political maps we are due after the 2010 census? Our redistricting process is at a stalemate and tied up in court. But whenever the new maps come, predictions are that they will screw people of color, royally.

The proposed maps certainly do. When the New York State Legislative Taskforce of Demographic Research and Reapportionment (LATFOR) released them in late January, the good government group Common Cause said the maps “egregiously disadvantage minority communities, abuse the federally mandated principle of ‘one person one vote,’ and violate the constitutional provision to avoid crossing county lines whenever possible.” Okay, is there anything good about it?

The maps were so bad Governor Andrew Cuomo said he’d veto them. “At first glance, these lines are simply unacceptable and would be vetoed by the governor,” Cuomo’s spokesman said in a statement.

So, just how bad are these maps for people of color? Common Cause performed this handy analysis of LATFOR’s state maps to quantify that. The analysis is based on a non-partisan map Common Cause created along with Newsday. Here’s what they found.

 

Common Cause Senate Map

LATFOR Senate Map

Common Cause Assembly Map

LATFOR Assembly Map

Non-Hispanic Black majority districts

7

7

17

15

Non-Hispanic Black influence districts

8

6

17

17

Latino majority districts

6

6

16

14

Latino influence districts

10

8

18

21

Non-Hispanic Asian majority districts

1

1

3

3

Non-Hispanic Asian influence districts

5

3

10

8

Under the proposed maps, all minority groups would retain their majority districts in the state Senate. But blacks and Latinos would lose two each in the Assembly. With respect to districts where minorities aren’t dominant, but influential, each minority group would lose two influential Senate districts. And Asians would lose two in the Assembly. Altogether, that’s 8 lost districts. The winners under the proposed maps? Republicans and the new upstate Senate district they intend to add without regard to the population growth in New York City.

The irony is that these setbacks come on the heels of a victory. A 2010 state law required state lawmakers, for the first time, to count prisoners at their home address, rather than in their prisons. Lawmakers followed that law when creating these maps, says Bill Mahoney, NYPIRG Research Coordinator. But with the other hand, they took away entire districts.

Two court cases now underway could affect the outcome of the redistricting process. One of them challenges the addition of a new upstate Senate district. The other one could lead to the elimination of yet another Congressional district in New York City. And Cuomo is pushing for a Constitutional amendment that could limit the population variation between districts to 1 percent. Restricting the variation would make it harder for upstate districts to siphon off New York City’s population.

But the NAACP New York State Conference isn’t willing to wait for an amendment unless it comes with a veto. NAACP President Hazel Dukes sent Governor Cuomo this letter:


NAACP



About the Author

Kelly Virella
Kelly Virella lives in an East Harlem walk-up with her husband, her bicycle and her books. She's worked as a journalist for 11 years and started this website during the summer of 2011. She fell in love with New York City during her first visit here as a 16-year-old and finally made good on her promise to move here in April 2010.



 
 

 
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